, China

Jason Yau focuses on tech criteria in Chinese International Awards 2021

RSM regional leader foresees Chinese firms embracing the shift to more consumer-oriented model and gaining new skill sets.

Jason Yau is the Asia-Pacific regional leader for RSM International and the head of Technology for RSM Hong Kong. Under his belt is his 18 years of auditing and consulting experience. He is a US-Certified Public Accountant and Certified Information Technology Professional by the State of New York, and sits on the SMP committee for Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. 

He has been with RSM since 2004, being a member of its US global expat team before joining the Hong Kong team in 2016. As regional leader, Yau works closely with RSM member firms to strengthen its brand in the Asia-Pacific and drive its vision to be the adviser of choice to the middle market globally. He also leads the Technology and Management Consulting division in providing IT assurance, security and privacy, and digital transformation services for regional and global clients. 

In this short interview with Hong Kong Business, Jason shares with us his insights on how Chinese businesses are evolving and adapting to digital transformation, how the pandemic accelerated the shift to a business-to-consumer model, and how new skills will be needed to market, develop, and implement new strategies.

Can you share with us your work experience or a backstory that has contributed to your expertise?

I started my career with RSM New York office in 2004 and was expatriated to Hong Kong in 2012. I subsequently joined RSM Hong Kong as a partner and established the Technology and Management Consulting (IT Consulting) division in 2016. With my passion for IT, I grew the technology practice from a single person to almost 40 professionals in more than four years. 

Other than the client-facing responsibilities, I also served as the partner-in-charge of their RSM’s in-house IT department. When I took over the role in 2017, I decided to embark on a cloud transformation journey and migrated all RSM’s business applications and data to the cloud. My undertaking has been set up for the future, not only from an IT technical perspective, but also from the financial management perspective. I sit on the Global Digital Advisory Committee, Global Digital Task Force, Global Innovation Committee, and Global Strategy Task Force for RSM International. My hands-on experience in the IT consulting area has helped RSM in adopting and executing digital strategy in a much more agile and adaptive manner.

Which trends do you think will define Chinese businesses in the years to come?

I think the growth in the middle-income family in China and their consumption behaviour will define how Chinese businesses will respond to the market. The biggest opportunity—at the same time a challenge—for Chinese businesses is how they transform their existing business models from outbound to domestic-focus, and climb from the bottom to the middle or upper tier of the value-chain. The recent tightening of regulatory environment in China certainly has a short-term dramatic impact but there will be probably a healthier trend from a longer-term perspective. Chinese businesses will continue to embrace and adopt latest technology in enabling a farther reach of customer base, developing more efficient way of business transactions, and most importantly, staying competitive against their peers.

How has digital transformation affected the way companies are being formed today?

China is one of the leading countries in adopting, applying, and embracing digital transformation. With the speed of digital transformation in China I think a lot of the traditional manufacturing companies, which heavily rely on human labour, would be naturally phased out. COVID has also accelerated the reach of businesses going from traditional B2B model and now into B2C model. With direct interaction and transaction with end-customers, there is a need to have a new skillset within the organisation as to how to market, develop, react, and execute their business strategies with consumers. For example, majority of the manufacturing business do not necessary need to run a website or an e-commerce platform, but now the same type of businesses would not only have to continue to refine their products, but also learn how to sell things through an e-platform directly to customers. 

Where are the opportunities in China for businesses to explore and how can they leverage these? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages that it brings when it comes to managing and growing a business?

China is a huge market. With the growing middle class, the opportunities are going to be unlimited for business. For business to navigate in China they need to have real understanding about the government policies and initiatives, which have significant impact on driving customer behaviours and business trends. In recent years, as we observe in the Chinese market, there are more government intervention to ensure regulations are not only introduced, but also enforced. I expect that the tightening and enforcement of market regulations will continue to intensify in the near term. Unlike in the past, when laws and regulations are subject to heavy interpretations, they should now be viewed with clarity to make it easier to decide whether to invest in China or not; and eventually, create a healthier business environment for longer term perspective.

What key factors are you looking for when judging who should win?

The key factors I looked at, as a judge, are as follows:

1) Whether the technology can solve a real-life, practical problem;

2) Whether the technology is easy and quick to implement;

3) Whether the technology is user-friendly; and

4) Whether the technology is transformational and will not go obsolete for at least a decade.

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